Four to six.
That’s how many hours we typically spend a day writing information, reminders, checklists, and goals. We jump from desktop to mobile to tablet and depend on our software to keep us productive and motivated. Then something happens, and we’re on Google search for the umpteenth time:
Most of us struggle to find a note taking app that fits our unique workflow and needs. If you’re tired of going back and forth with Microsoft OneNote for some time, we’ve rounded up a list of the best OneNote alternatives in 2023 to find your match. ✨
- What is Microsoft OneNote?
- Top 17 Microsoft OneNote Alternatives & Note Taking Apps
- How to Choose a Microsoft OneNote Alternative
What is Microsoft OneNote?
OneNote is a digital note taking application available with a Microsoft Office 365 paid subscription or free with a Microsoft account. Notable features include:
- Handwritten notes and sketches with fingers or a stylus
- Voice notes
- Virtual Sticky Notes
- Text translation
- Built-in Math Assistant (paid feature)
- Email to OneNote
- Copilot AI assistant
- OneNote Templates
But, OneNote doesn’t come without it’s challenges for note takers. A few OneNote limitations include
- Lack of integrations
- Limited export capabilities
- Weak editing features
- No offline mode
- No “find & replace” features
Digital note taking is one of the most essential skills you’ll use throughout your life, and you need the best tools to learn and perform at your most productive level. With features such as bi-directional links and advanced text editors becoming popular in note taking, you should have the full picture of powerful note-taking software alternatives to Microsoft Onenote. 👩💻
Top 17 Microsoft OneNote Alternatives & Note Taking Apps
Best for every season of life
ClickUp is a free project management solution that allows every team to manage projects, collaborate smarter, and bring all your work under one tool. Whether you’re new to project management apps or a total power user, ClickUp’s customization can stretch to any team size—remote or in-office—for the best productivity of your life.
Among the hundreds of user-friendly tools in ClickUp, we recommend starting with these four (and completely free!) note features: Docs, Notepad, Mind Maps, and Whiteboards. ⬇️
Collect and connect your notes, tasks, and more in Docs with the Relationships ClickApp—a new power set of features for relating anything in ClickUp. (A must-have for fans of bi-directional links!)
- Turn on focus mode so you can hyperfocus on one block of text at a time
- Select a custom cover image from the gallery, your desktop, a link, or the Unsplash library
- Assign threaded replies so action items never get lost
- View relationships and backlinks for the page you’re on or relationships for an entire document
- Create and access Onenote Templates from the right sidebar
👉 Learn how entrepreneur and creative director Karla Massiel maps the customer journey with ClickUp Docs!
Use ClickUp AI to take your productivity to the next level. Save time and let ClickUp summarize your notes, write down ideas, write a blog post, and more.
ClickUp AI recognizes and suggests tasks as you type so that you can quickly create new tasks without having to open the task editor. It offers an easy way to organize your work, assign tasks, set due dates, and more with just a few clicks. With ClickUp’s AI-powered task suggestion engine, you get tailored suggestions for everything from titles and descriptions to
Jot down quick ideas, grocery lists, or wireframe a game plan in the ClickUp Notepad!
- Open a note and expand it to fill the screen
- View and revert changes in note history
- Print your notes in a visually pleasing way
- Search – Find a keyword in your notes
- Add rich editing with /Slash Commands
👉 Download the ClickUp Chrome Extension to take notes on any web page in your browser!
ClickUp Whiteboards are the best way to organize, visualize and plan your projects. They provide an easy and intuitive canvas for you to create task lists, assign tasks, set deadlines and share ideas with colleagues. With Whiteboards, you can easily break down complex projects into manageable tasks that everyone on your team can understand.
✅ ClickUp Pros
- Keep all your conversations in one place by sending and receiving emails directly from ClickUp tasks
- Choose from 100 native integrations along with thousands available through Zapier and Integromat
- Get work done and on the go with the mobile version
- Plan, manage, and accomplish your daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly Goals
- Invite anyone to your ClickUp and collaborate
- Connect with a world-class customer support team, watch on-demand webinars, or speak with a ClickUp vetted consultant
- Save custom templates for repeated workflows or use templates we’ve created in the Template Center
- AI powered Docs for content creation and note taking
❌ ClickUp Cons
- Not all ClickUp views are available on the mobile app… yet! 🔮
💸 ClickUp Pricing
- Free Forever Plan (best for personal use)
- Kanban boards
- Unlimited tasks and members
- Collaborative Docs
- 24/7 Support, and more
- Unlimited Plan (best for small teams ($7/member per month)
- Everything in the Free Forever Plan and…
- Resource management
- Unlimited Storage, Dashboards, Custom Fields
- Agile reporting, and more
- Business Plan (best for mid-sized teams ($12/member per month)
- Everything in the Unlimited Plan and…
- Custom reporting
- Advanced automation, time tracking, Dashboard features
- Timelines, Mind Maps, and more
👉 If you need a full software suite to handle your Enterprise workloads and processes, we’d love to help set you up for success! Please contact Sales when you’re ready.
- G2: 4.7/5 (3,880+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.7/5 (2,480+ reviews)
2. Roam Research
Best for knowledge-graph thinkers
Roam Research, a robust knowledge management application, brands itself as “a note taking tool for networked thought.” It takes mind mapping to a new level with bi-directional links: a node becomes a note users can click to open. Each note can house its own in-text links and connect to other notes to create relationships. Essentially, the interface of Roam Research mirrors how our mind works.
OneNote users might find Roam Research complicated because the structure is entirely different. Unlike OneNote, every page in Roam is an outline made up of hierarchical blocks of text and images. As a result, there aren’t any notebooks or sections to open in a sequential order like OneNote’s interface.
✅ Roam Research Pros
❌ Roam Research Cons
- Requires manual exporting to back up data
- Expensive compared to the other best OneNote alternatives
- Lacks work management features
💸 Roam Research Pricing
Roam Research offers a 31-day trial and paid plans starting at $15/month.
💬 Roam Research Customer Ratings
- G2: N/A
- Capterra: 3.5/5 (2 reviews)
👉 Check out our guide on Roam Research Alternatives!
Best for building simple to complex pages
Notion is one of the popular note taking apps with 1,000+ community-made templates for download. In Notion, you can create a home base for any project and fully customize your content to match your workflow. With any type of work—wikis, dashboards, or note-taking—users can track tasks, view what needs to be done, and link notes.
Compared to Evernote or OneNote, Notion is a high-maintenance platform. It requires modifying and feature understanding to make your notes not just look aesthetically pleasing, but serve their purpose.
✅ Notion Pros
- AI assistance for writing
- All types of content from images to app embeds can be added to Notion pages
- Clean sidebar navigation
❌ Notion Cons
- High-maintenance for long term use
- Mobile app needs improvement for productive use
- (Very) limited offline mode
💸 Notion Pricing
Notion offers a free version for personal use and paid plans starting at $4/month.
💬 Notion Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.6/5 (410+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.8/5 (460+ reviews)
4. Apple Notes
Best for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users
Apple Notes is available on all Mac and iOS Apple devices. In recent years, Apple Notes received a huge upgrade making notes more accessible across all devices within the Apple ecosystem. For note takers on the go, Apple Notes is the most secure with FaceID, TouchID, or password.
While Apple Notes might be the first obvious choice for Apple users, if you’re looking for a better notes hierarchy experience, it’s quite limited compared to Microsoft OneNote’s notebooks, sections, and pages.
✅ Apple Notes Pros
- An Apple Pencil with a compatible iPad can create an instant note from the Lock Screen
- Gallery view allows users to find the note they’re looking for easily
- Automatic iCloud sync across all Apple devices
❌ Apple Notes Cons
- Limited formatting options
- Not a full-fledged note editor
- Low storage space (additional space available at an extra cost)
💸 Apple Notes Pricing
Apple Notes is free on any Apple device.
💬 Apple Notes Customer Ratings
- G2: N/A
- Capterra: N/A
👉 Check out our guide on Roam Research vs Notion!
Best for visual mind-mapping notes
Milanote is a web-based app geared towards visual collaborators such as product designers and photographers. It’s a flexible visual workspace for creating moodboards, capturing notes, and getting feedback on design concepts.
The downside is that Milanote might be a hard program to adjust to if you’re not comfortable with a scrapbook-style layout. You can easily misspend hours organizing notes and figuring out a system not meant for how you think and capture notes.
✅ Milanote Pros
- Notes encrypted both at rest and in transit
- Videos, animated GIFs, fonts and more are accepted
- Built-in templates available
❌ Milanote Cons
- Not suitable for text-based or hierarchical outline users
- Limited integrations
- Learning curve is steep
💸 Milanote Pricing
Milanote offers free and paid plans starting at $9.99/month per user.
💬 Milanote Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.5/5 (30+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.8/5 (30+ reviews)
Best for drawing with a stylus
Notability is one of the popular subscription-based note taking apps for tablet users. Combined with a stylus, this is a great option for paperless students taking lecture notes in the classroom. Notability’s clean UI, basic features, and built-in toolset make it quite easy to open a quick note and begin drawing in seconds.
What will make the switch from OneNote to Notability worth the cost and reasons? If you prefer writing with a stylus 75% of the time.
✅ Notability Pros
- Budget-friendly option for stylus users
- Community-made notes available for download
- Mix between text and imagery
❌ Notability Cons
- Not a suitable project management tool
- Auto-backup is a paid feature
- Expensive subscription plan
💸 Notability Pricing
Notability offers a free version with a paid subscription starting at $14.99/month per user.
💬 Notability Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.6/5 (30+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (10 reviews)
Check out these Notability alternatives!
Best for high-stakes projects in large organizations
The next Microsoft OneNote alternative on our list is Atlassian’s Confluence, a remote-friendly note taking app that serves as a knowledge management and project collaboration workspace. Users are able to create a project plan from scratch or choose from 100+ templates to get started. Roadmaps, Jira issues, and Trello boards are among the features that can be added to Confluence documents for work organization.
Large organizations in terms of team size would benefit the most from Confluence. However, for personal use or with a small group of team members, this software would feel overwhelming compared to OneNote.
✅ Confluence Pros
- Open, connected structure for everyone in an organization
- AI powered note taking with Atlassian Intelligence
- Compatible with 3,000+ Marketplace apps
❌ Confluence Cons
- Poor in-app Search feature
- Third-party plugins might be necessary for some use cases
- Suitable for teams of ten or larger to get the most out of the paid version
💸 Confluence Pricing
Confluence offers free and paid plans starting at $5.50/month per user.
💬 Confluence Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.1/5 (3,340+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.4/5 (1,980+ reviews)
Best for people who don’t need up-to-date features
You might have come across Evernote in your early schooling or career days. As one of the first digital note taking apps, Evernote’s easy-to-use web clipper tool remains popular to this day. Evernote replaces the need for any physical paper with a scan-and-save feature, so all your things are digitized.
While Evernote proves itself as an all-encompassing database, it’s not a long-term solution for note takers. There’s a lack of transparency in Evernote’s plans for feature improvements. This means users will find themselves searching for Evernote alternatives.
✅ Evernote Pros
- PDF annotation
- Calendar events can link to notes
- Searchable text in file formats, including PDF files and documents
❌ Evernote Cons
- Individual notes can’t be password protected
- Instability on the app when new versions become available
- Slow progress for app improvements
💸 Evernote Pricing
Evernote offers free and paid plans starting at $7.99/month.
💬 Evernote Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.4/5 (1,950+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.4/5 (7,000+ reviews)
Best for Apple ecosystem dwellers
Next is Bear, a simple note taking app for quick notes or in-depth essays. Bear’s tools shorten the time to edit and format notes with streamlined taps and keystrokes for a pleasant writing experience.
This app is popular amongst writers, students, and engineers because categorizing to-do lists in Bear’s sleek interface is easy. However, there are no plans in Bear’s roadmap for Android or Windows devices.
✅ Bear Pros
- Multiple themes to offer a style for everyone
- Word count and read time in the sidebar panel
- Advanced markup editor supporting 150+ programming languages
❌ Bear Cons
- Features such as device syncing, themes, and export options are not free
- Not available for Android or Windows users
- Unsuitable for users who need to share notes
💸 Bear Pricing
Bear offers free and paid plans starting at $1.49/monthly after a free trial.
💬 Bear Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.5/5 (30+ reviews)
- Capterra: N/A
Check out these Bear alternatives!
Best for students sharing academic material or planner templates
GoodNotes is a smart digital paper and social app for students who want to create shared notes with others worldwide studying the same subjects. This feature (at no extra cost) called Community allows users to create their own profile for others to view their documents.
While the Community feature is an incredible tool for people to connect, the note taking features compared to Notability are limited or non-existent.
✅ GoodNotes Pros
- Built-in flashcards study mode
- Shared Documents feature gives you a shareable link to collaborate
- No extra cost for the Mac app
❌ GoodNotes Cons
- Not suitable for high-stakes project planning
- Limited plans available
- No task management features
💸 GoodNotes Pricing
GoodNotes free plan is limited to 3 notebooks and its paid version starts at $9.99.
💬 GoodNotes Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.8/5 (20+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.5/5 (2 reviews)
Best for team collaboration
Notejoy is for teams who favor easy, real-time collaboration. Users can quickly integrate into conversations with features such as note reactions and library overviews. It can also seamlessly import existing notes from OneNote!
If you’re looking for a digital note taking app for personal use, there are other OneNote alternatives on this list that will support your writing goals.
✅ Notejoy Pros
- Available on multiple platforms, including web, desktop, and mobile
- Web clipper is a browser extension
- Rich syntax highlighting across a wide variety of languages
❌ Notejoy Cons
- Not a suitable project management tool
- Text editing options are limited compared to other software on this list
- No drawing tools
💸 Notejoy Pricing
Notejoy has free and paid plans starting at $4/month.
💬 Notejoy Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.3/5 (20+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.3/5 (180+ reviews)
Best for Markdown enthusiasts
Simplenote, as its name suggests, is a simple note taking app for a distraction-free environment to brain dump and organize thoughts. Equipped with markdown support, users can write, preview, and publish any note.
Unlike OneNote, SimpleNote lacks collaboration and sharing features that move thoughts into action. As a result, teams can easily overwhelm themselves (and each other) with a running list of notes.
✅ Simplenote Pros
- Available in iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux, or in your browser
- Insert links from one note into another note to cross-reference information
- Write, preview, and publish notes in Markdown format
❌ Simplenote Cons
- Lacks task management
- Notes are not encrypted
- Not optimized for organizations with sensitive data
💸 Simplenote Pricing
Simplenote is a free notes app.
💬 Simplenote Customer Ratings
- G2: 4/5 (20+ reviews)
- Capterra: N/A
13. Google Keep
Best for Google Suite power users
Google Keep is ideal for users who want to store reminders and notes while on the go. Its ability to quickly search for notes by color or list name helps get things done faster.
Google Keep is convenient next to your Google calendar or Google Docs, but it’s not a fully-fledged note taking app to commit long-term use for work-related content. Unlike OneNote, it’s a basic platform for basic needs with no hints at evolving for a modern note taking experience.
✅ Google Keep Pros
- Filter and search for notes by color, lists with images, audio notes with reminders, or shared notes
- Opens next to Google Calendar
- Compatible with Google Maps to set location-based or time-based reminders
❌ Google Keep Cons
- Limited formatting options
- Poor note organization structure
- Not suitable for long-form notes
💸 Google Keep Pricing
Google Keep is free with a Google account.
💬 Google Workspace Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.6/5 (39,690+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.8/5 (20+ reviews)
👉 Bonus Guide: Google Keep vs Evernote!
Best for text-based note takers
Workflowy is a hierarchical note taking app built to capture, organize, analyze, and share content. Notes are organized into nesting structures that can also convert to Kanban boards. This allows users to view their work at a high level or zoom into specific details. Don’t have enough time to look at a shared note from a colleague? Easily save the note to view later.
This alternative to Onenote is intuitive for anyone to use, but select types of heavy note takers and businesses that depend on remote collaboration will benefit (and get their money’s worth) from the platform.
✅ Workflowy Pros
- Mobile app for iOS and Android
- Keyboard shortcuts allow organized content to seamless expand or collapse
- Backlinks to anything
❌ Workflowy Cons
- Monthly bullet point limit in the free plan
- Not suitable for free form writing
- Limited formatting features
💸 Workflowy Pricing
Workflowy offers a free plan and the paid plan starts at $4.99/month.
💬 Workflowy Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.4/5 (10+ reviews)
- Capterra: N/A
15. Dropbox Paper
Best for simple word processing documents
The next OneNote alternative on our list is Dropbox Paper, a seamless collaboration tool for teams of all sizes and industries to edit documents and share all your notes within the program. Users can add annotations to images, mention people from documents, and connect to their calendars to find meeting notes quickly. Its simple but powerful syncing capabilities put everyone on the same page.
On the flip side, if you’re looking to share professional presentation slides, Dropbox lacks advanced formatting features compared to popular word processors. It satisfies the need to get everyone’s thoughts out on digital paper, but not for publishing or your next stakeholder meeting if you aren’t comfortable with formatting.
✅ Dropbox Paper Pros
- Available on the iOS and Android apps
- Invision, Sketch, or Dropbox files embedded into Dropbox Paper previews correctly
- Variety of media support from other sources
❌ Dropbox Paper Cons
- Not as intuitive compared to top-rated word processors
- Lacks advanced visual formatting
- Poor note organization
💸 Dropbox Paper Pricing
Inquire with Dropbox Paper for storage and pricing.
💬 Dropbox Paper Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.1/5 (4,470+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.4/5 (130+ reviews)
Best for people who crave a true Markdown editor experience
Typora is a seamless markdown editor (text-to-HTML conversion tool) geared towards content creators and engineers who prefer seeing a live preview of the final document to help concentrate on the content itself. Not only is it a markdown editor—its powerful outline organization system allows you to quickly go through the document and jump to any section with one click.
The jump from Microsoft OneNote to Typora could shock some users if they’re not familiar with markdown editors. It’ll feel like you’re spending too much time figuring out the app instead of doing actual work.
✅ Typora Pros
- Formats such as OpenOffice, LaTeX, MediaWiki, Epub, and more, can be imported or exported
- Custom paper themes
- Focus & Typewriter mode
❌ Typora Cons
- No free plan is available
- Not suitable for collaboration with others
- Lacks task management features
💸 Typora Pricing
Typora offers a 15-day free trial for up to three devices. The paid version starts at $14.99.
💬 Typora Customer Ratings
- G2: N/A
- Capterra: N/A
17. Zoho Notebook
Best for custom cover illustrations
Zoho Notebook is a free note taking app with an intuitive design for all your devices and operating systems. Zoho Notebook integrates with Zoho Projects and is packed with mobile-friendly features such as Zia, the AI-powered assistant, and notable gestures for searching information.
Compared to OneNote, this app has more fun with color and personalization for personal use. However, if you’re looking for an app for serious note taking and work collaboration, Zoho Notebook might not be for you. The editor is limited to basic functionalities.
✅ Zoho Notebook Pros
- Free app with no ads
- Apps available for both iOS (iPhone & iPad) and Android devices
- Passcode and Touch ID features for notes and notebooks
❌ Zoho Notebook Cons
- Lacks multiple views
- No handwriting recognition feature
- No collaboration with others in notebooks
💸 Zoho Notebook Pricing
Zoho Notebook is a free notes application.
💬 Zoho Notebook Customer Ratings
- G2: 4.5/5 (40+ reviews)
- Capterra: 4.6/5 (40+ reviews)
How to Choose a Microsoft OneNote Alternative
At this point in your schooling or career, you’ve heard, “the perfect notes app depends on what your needs are!”
So if we know what we need, why are we still disappointed in the end? Maybe, we’re looking at this wrong.Typically, we choose our notes app based on two methods: note taking style or use case. How about considering the sweet spot? ⬇️
Note Taking Style
· Visual Boards
· Free Form
✨ The Sweet Spot✨
An all-purpose app that complements our productivity system
What’s a productivity system? It’s your unique set of processes and tools working together to help you get things done efficiently. Here are criteria questions to consider along with your productivity system to guide you on your search:
- Is the app accessible and fast on any device?
- Can I easily open the app and begin writing a note?
- How much does the app cost?
- Am I concerned about formatting as I’m writing?
- Can I create and edit custom templates?
- Is the software secure?
- Does the app have a clean UI?
- What are the different ways can I organize my notes?
- Can I collaborate on my notes with others? Is it easy to share with a URL?
- How much training will be involved to get up and running?
- Can I view my notes next to my tasks and projects within the same app?
- Does the app have exceptional customer support?
If you’re looking to save time and money testing multiple apps that will ultimately get tossed, try ClickUp, the best free Onenote alternative for cross-platform note taking!
Your Notes, Your Way with OneNote Alternatives
Sign up for a free ClickUp account and start taking notes with ClickUp’s Docs, Notepad, Mind Maps, or Whiteboards. ClickUp wasn’t built for specific note takers or use cases—but to make everyone feel connected and present with their work. ✍️💡